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Banteay Meanchey service office picks up pass issuance pace

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Migrant workers who are recruited by recruitment companies leave for work in Thailand at a border in Banteay Meanchey province in May. FB

Banteay Meanchey service office picks up pass issuance pace

Banteay Meanchey provincial governor Um Reatrey has posted more officials to the One Window Service Office at the provincial hall to expedite Thai border pass applications.

The additional manpower is in response to criticism that service was too slow, officials said, nothing that the office has issued more than 20,000 border passes in three months.

Suon Sopheak, deputy head of the office, said on June 29 that when the borders reopened few months ago, up to 1,000 Cambodians a day had applied for passes.

She added that although they were now rushing to clear a backlog, the process had been slow. The office had previously been able to issue just 200 passes per day, with one factor being a lack of staff.

“There were up to 1,000 people a day applying for passes and we were issuing just 200. Thanks to the swift action of the governor – who ordered the addition of 12 officials and three printers to the office, we can now issue 500 passes each day. This is a vast improvement,” she said.

Sopheak added that the past slowness was a combination of factors, including new technology which had developed a problem.

“We explained to the public that we were having technical difficulties. Most people were patient, although some were unhappy. They seem to think that we simply record their details and then print off their passes. This is not how the system works,” she said.

“The new system means we have to enter their details into a new Ministry of Interior database. The database crashed for several days at a time, which meant we could not complete the applications. In addition, the number of applicants was higher than we expected. We are processing all of the applications now. If someone has applied but has not received their pass yet, they should not worry,” she added.

Sopheak said that another part of the problem was that although the borders were open, her Thai counterparts were not yet making single day passes available. The Thai passes used to sell for 10 baht ($0.30) and were a popular alternative to the longer term Cambodian pass.

She said when the Thai passes became available again, demand will drop at her office.

She said that April and May had seen more than 1,000 applicants a day, but now they generally saw between 200 and 300 a day. People with illnesses, the elderly, pregnant women and road accident victims remained a priority in receiving the passes.

She explained that the passes were issued under an agreement between the Cambodian and Thai sides. The passes only allowed entry to Banteay Meanchey province and Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province. They could not visit Bangkok, for example.

She said that from April 1 through June 24, the office had issued 23,378 border passes. More than 40 officials were now working on processing them.

According to the Banteay Meanchey provincial administration, a new border pass costs 20,000 riel, as does renewal of a border book. Renewal of a border pass costs 10,000 riel, and lasts for two years.

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